American Airlines Flight Attendants Urge New Precautions To Contain Coronavirus

Alan Scaia
January 24, 2020 - 9:02 am

Credit: J.Burkett Photo

FORT WORTH (1080 KRLD) - The union representing flight attendants at American Airlines says all carriers that fly to China should take additional precautions to protect passengers and crew members from coronavirus.

Related: Coronavirus Explained: What You Need to Know

China has restricted travel for 35 million residents.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants says airlines should take "immediate emergency measures" to contain the spread of the virus. APFA says those measures should include providing crew members with the latest information about the outbreak, how to identify symptoms of coronavirus and "practical procedures" to handle passengers or crew members who may be sick.

"I don't believe we know everything there is to know, yet, about the coronavirus," says APFA President Lori Bassani.

Bassani says without that information, the safety and health of crew members and passengers could be compromised. APFA says American should work with the Centers for Disease Control, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, World Health Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization to take whatever action is possible to minimize the chance of exposure.

Bassani says she does not see a reason to cancel flights to China, but she would like American Airlines to let flight attendants on routes to and from China wear masks.

"I'm asking for extreme measures," she says. "We're in touch with our company daily, and we're in touch with the CDC. But the important thing is, in the meantime, we take every precaution."

American Airlines has responded, saying the airline has been working with its medical director to "frequently communicate" updates on the virus to crew members since it was first reported last Friday.

"Since news of the coronavirus was first reported last Friday, we have been working closely with our medical director to frequently communicate to crew members the latest updates on the virus and best practices to protect themselves and our customers. Beginning on Thursday, American increased provisions of hand sanitizer wipes for flight attendants to use on all American Airlines departures to China. The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority. We are in close contact with the US Customs and Border Protection, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials and will coordinate with them on any required health and safety related measures," American Airlines wrote in a statement.​